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Georgia Firefighter Foam Lawsuit: Get the Right Attorney

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

If you’re a current or former firefighter in Georgia, you might have heard about the Georgia firefighter foam lawsuit linked to cancer risks from AFFF exposure.

This article delivers crucial guidance on qualifications for compensation, identifies the defendants and the potential settlement figures, and illustrates the process of how to join the lawsuit.

If you or a loved one has been adversely affected by firefighting foam exposure, Schmidt & Clark, LLP stands by to offer support.

As a firm with a distinguished record in representing plaintiffs, our top concern is to make certain that you are awarded the justice and rightful compensation you are entitled to.

Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits

Firefighters and military personnel in Georgia, in their quest to protect their communities, confront an unexpected adversary – firefighting foam, also known as AF. Unbeknownst to many, the foam they routinely used to extinguish fires contained harmful PFAS (Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), leading to an increased risk of cancer.

This revelation has triggered a wave of firefighting foam lawsuits against AFFF producers, with Georgia’s cases being consolidated as multi-district litigation, known as the firefighting foam settlement. Georgia firefighting foam lawyers are now representing those affected in these legal battles.

These proceedings are not without precedence, as seen in bellwether trials like the City of Stuart v. 3M Company. Despite the mounting evidence of health hazards, AFFF is still in use at airports and military bases, further endangering those exposed to it.

The establishment of the National Firefighter Registry by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) is a testament to the growing concern about the correlation between AFFF exposure and cancer development.

Key Points from Lawsuits

The lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers like DuPont and 3M hinge on a grim revelation – these companies knew about the dangers of PFAS chemicals but chose to sell their products anyway. Navy scientists warned about these hazards as early as the 1970s, and by the 1990s, the detrimental effects of PFAS on humans were well-known.

Parties, including airport and military firefighters, representing the lawsuits, are pursuing personal injury damages against AF product manufacturers due to the pain, suffering, and emotional distress caused by fluorochemical exposure.

The plaintiffs argue that chronic exposure to PFAS in AFFF is linked to higher incidences of several types of cancer, a point backed by the classifications from agencies like the EPA and IARC recognizing PFAS chemicals as potential carcinogens.

What Is AFFF?

According to the Division of Spill Prevention and Response, AFFF is a firefighting foam used predominantly by firefighters and military personnel. It is also known as aqueous film-forming foam [1].

What sets AFFF apart from other types of firefighting foam is its high efficiency in extinguishing liquid fuel fires, a property attributed to its PFAS content. However, this efficiency comes at a steep price – PFAS, a group of artificial chemicals, are toxic to humans and the environment.

Despite their knowledge of PFAS’s harmful effects, manufacturers neglected to warn users or propose safer alternatives sufficiently. This disturbing negligence forms the crux of the AF lawsuits as claimants fight for justice, compensation, and, most importantly, an end to the reckless endangerment of lives.

Who Are The Defendants In AFFF Lawsuits in Georgia?

The defendants in AFFF lawsuits in Georgia encompass a range of companies beyond the well-known 3M Company, notorious for their production of AFFF with PFAS. Joining 3M in the legal fray are other key players, such as DuPont and its spinoff, Chemours, both scrutinized for their role in the manufacture and sale of these hazardous firefighting foams.

The lawsuits accuse these companies of knowingly risking public health by failing to inform the public about the dangers of PFAS chemicals or take necessary precautions. Other defendants include:

  • Tyco Fire Products
  • Daikin Industries
  • Kidde-Fenwal Inc.
  • BASF
  • Chemguard Inc.

All are facing allegations of contributing to the PFAS contamination through their AFFF products. These lawsuits form part of the broader multi-district litigation that consolidates federal cases from various states, including Georgia.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology and Information, the cancer link associated with AFFF usage is one of its most disturbing aspects [2].

Since the early 1990s, research has consistently shown that PFAS in firefighting foam is harmful to human health, with an increased risk of various cancers in individuals with higher volumes of PFAS in their blood.

Firefighters, especially those working at airports and military bases, are at a heightened risk of developing cancer due to their exposure to PFAS-containing firefighting foam. Some of the cancers associated with AFFF usage include:

It is crucial to raise awareness about the potential health risks of AFFF and take necessary precautions to protect firefighters and other individuals who may come into contact with this foam.

Does Firefighting Foam Contain PFAS?

As stated by the Department of Natural Resources, firefighting foam does contain PFAS chemicals [3]. What’s troublesome is that not all firefighting foams are created equal.

Class B firefighting foams, designed for flammable liquid fires, are divided into fluorinated foams that contain PFAS and fluorine-free foams that do not. The former, including AFFF, poses significant health and environmental concerns due to their PFAS content.

Identifying whether a firefighting foam contains PFAS can be challenging. Indicators that might provide some clues include:

  • mentions of fluorosurfactant
  • fluoroprotein
  • C6
  • the use of “fluoro” on the package or safety data sheets

Further complicating PFAS identification in foam is the current lack of requirement for manufacturers to report PFAS on safety data sheets, necessitating direct inquiries to the manufacturer.

Occupational exposure of firefighters to carcinogenic chemicals may increase their risk of developing different types of cancer. – National Library of Medicine

Common Injuries Linked To Firefighting Foam PFAS

Immediate and long-term health conditions can result from AFFF exposure. Immediate side effects can include skin and eye irritation, respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems, and neurological symptoms. Long-term health conditions, however, are far more concerning.

Liver and kidney damage, reproductive and developmental issues, immune system impairment, and increased levels of PFAS in firefighters’ blood are just a few of the alarming effects of long-term AFFF exposure.

Who Qualifies for the AFFF Lawsuit in Georgia?

A Georgia resident who has been exposed to AFFF and subsequently diagnosed with cancer linked to PFAS qualifies for the AFFF lawsuit in Georgia.

To build a strong case, you will need to present evidence of exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals and a subsequent diagnosis of a linked cancer type.

How Do AFFF Lawsuits Work?

AFFF lawsuits work by initially offering a free evaluation to determine eligibility, where potential claimants can discuss their exposure details, health issues, and the impact of their diagnosis. Following this, a thorough case evaluation is conducted alongside evidence gathering.

The next step involves formally filing the lawsuit, after which settlement negotiations are undertaken. If a settlement cannot be reached, the legal team provides courtroom representation to fight for the claimant’s compensation.

Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits Settlement Amounts in Georgia

Settlements are expected to be resolved through a mass tort global settlement where defendants contribute to a settlement fund to pay individual plaintiffs. The compensation received depends on a tiered ranking system based on the strength of each case.

For instance, cases in the top settlement tier, which typically involve long-term occupational exposure and diagnosis with more dangerous cancer types linked to AFFF, are predicted to have average settlement amounts of approximately $300,000 to $600,000.

Second-tier cases might see payouts between $150,000 and $280,000, while third-tier cases may end up with settlement payouts of $75,000 or less. It’s important to note that these figures are estimates based on previous mass tort cases involving cancer and are not guaranteed.

Potential Compensation for Victims of Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuits in Georgia

In AFFF lawsuits in Georgia, claimants can pursue compensation for various damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Past settlements in AFFF lawsuits have involved substantial amounts. For example, 3M paid $55 million to Michigan, and DuPont announced a $1.2 billion settlement, with average amounts for top-tier cases around $300,000 to $600,000.

Individual plaintiffs in AFFF lawsuits seek compensation based on a tiered ranking system, which is influenced by the strength of their cases and may include punitive damages for manufacturer negligence.

Looking ahead, it’s speculated that companies like 3M may be considering setting aside substantial funds, potentially over $10 billion, for future settlements in AFFF-related cases, with speculations of settlements being made as early as the first half of 2023.

Filing a Georgia Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawsuit

To file an AFFF lawsuit in Georgia, plaintiffs join a Multi-District Litigation (MDL), which pools cases to streamline the legal process. The AFFF MDL has seen substantial growth in cases, with the most recent addition of 88 new cases bringing the total to 6,715 pending cases.

During the discovery phase, extensions may be granted for resolving discovery disputes. Pre-trial motions, such as summary judgment motions, can be used by defendants attempting to dismiss themselves from the case, arguing insufficient evidence linking their products to the contamination. Bellwether trials in the AFFF litigation serve to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of cases.

Types of Evidence To Present

For a successful AFFF lawsuit, it’s imperative to present irrefutable evidence that links AFFF chemical exposure to the onset of cancer.

This evidence may include detailed medical records confirming diagnosis and treatment, occupational documentation showing exposure to AFFF, expert witness testimonies that support the connection between PFAS and cancer, environmental reports from the affected areas, and any other pertinent records or documents that reinforce the association between AFFF use and subsequent health issues.

Georgia Statute of Limitations

Georgia law generally provides individuals with two years from the date of discovering their AFFF-related injury to file a lawsuit. However, the Discovery Rule in Georgia may extend this timeframe if the injured party was unaware of their injury and its cause at the time of exposure.

Due to these varying time limitations, potential claimants are advised to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure their lawsuit is filed within the applicable deadline.

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Have you or a loved one been injured or exposed to a toxic chemical at work or in the home that has caused a severe life-threatening side effect, illness, disease, or death?

Get Your Free Consultation From Georgia Firefighting Foam Cancer Lawyers

Schmidt & Clark, LLP stands ready to assist in your time of need. Should you or a loved one suffer from injuries linked to firefighting foam exposure, reach out to us without delay. Our seasoned team is well-versed in such legal matters and will shepherd you through each step of the legal journey.

It’s vital to comprehend your legal entitlements and determine your eligibility for a firefighting foam lawsuit. We offer complimentary consultations, and our services are rendered on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only charge if we secure a favorable verdict or settlement for you.

Reach out to Schmidt & Clark for a full case assessment concerning toxic firefighting foam exposure. Allow us to be your trusted advocate during this complex ordeal.

Reference:

  1. https://dec.alaska.gov/spar/csp/pfas/firefighting-foam/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380916/
  3. https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/PFAS/AFFF.html

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